4th Halloween Short Film Festival

By Philip Ilson


A Pocket History of Halloween: ''the projector with teeth''

The 4th Halloween Short Film Festival is looming up again in early January, taking place at the ICA and Curzon Soho in Central London. Myself and Kate Taylor started the Festival back in 2004 off the back of regular screenings and live music events that Halloween had been doing at the ICA in the early part of this decade. Halloween itself had started life in 1994 as a short film screening forum; inspired by the underground and anarchic Exploding Cinema back then, where myself and school friend Tim Harding had screened our own low budget video and super 8 efforts, Halloween began in Soho pubs as a rare outlet for short films outside of the then insular festival circuit. Exploding Cinema’s non-cinema space screenings were inspirational – to have a more relaxed atmosphere of drinking and watching shorts, and Halloween soon moved to the 300 capacity Notre Dame Hall next door to the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square. In this old 1940’s ballroom we could add live cabaret, bands, DJs and a whole multi-media experience. Events here continued to 2000, at a time when similar groups sprang up across London, from Omsk to My Eyes My Eyes, all becoming part of the Volcano collective. We continued not only as Halloween Society Short Film Club (as it was then) but also starting the groundbreaking Kentra club night to interact with London’s burgeoning club culture scene of that time, where creative DJs such as Andy Weatherall and Richard Fearless could perform live sets alongside visuals groups and VJs such as Hexstatic and The Light Surgeons.

purity-ali-taylor.jpgPurity, dir. Ali Taylor

Eventually, Halloween moved into the ICA, but rather than concentrate on short film, we moved more into multi-media areas particularly with the Full Length live band and feature film events. Kate Taylor came on board in 2003 to help kick start some new ideas for Halloween, and the idea of an annual Festival grew out of these conversations, with Jane Giles at the ICA Film Dept strongly behind us. There had been no generic short film festival in London since the demise of the BBC Short Film Festival some years earlier, and with Halloween’s roots in both film and multi-media, the cross-arts aspect of the ICA with its cinema s and live music space seemed perfect to get a Festival off the ground.

In the last three years, the Festival has expanded to take in the Curzon Soho Cinema, who have long been supporters of short film nights and hosting festivals, and for 2007 we return slightly to our roots with three events at the Roxy Bar & Screen, a screening space in London Bridge set up cabaret style; here we are hoisting an animate! VJ night with guest filmmakers Run Wrake and Max Hattler creating live VJ sets from their own home movie footage.

hello-panda-blaine-brothers.jpgPurity, dir. Ali Taylor

Also for 2007, as well as 12 themed programmes of new short films chosen from 600 submissions, there will be retrospectives of experimental filmmaker Matt Hulse, music video and short filmmakers The Blaine Brothers, the public-made art porn films from the Destricted stable (judged by Larry Clark), guest events from Birmingham’s 7 Inch Cinema and from Berlin’s Britspotting Festival who are hosting a selection of Swiss activist film under the banner Agent Provocateur, and from FourDocs the Channel Four website. Plus live music from garage girl punks The Priscillas (also judging the low-budget film entries) and the Daughters of the Kaos (also judging the women’s programme). We’ll also be announcing the latest auteurs in the VX Collective Auteur Theory competition with a £2000 prize, and in a break from the short film tradition there will be a premiere of Alison Murray’s debut feature Mouth to Mouth starring rising Hollywood starlet Ellen Page; we’d always supported Alison’s short films, so it’s good to see her get to the next stage.

For more information on the 4th Halloween Short Film Festival visit: http://shortfilms.org.uk/

Philip Ilson is co-director of the Halloween Short Film festival, works at animate! and is a major film / music / events producer and programmer in London and beyond.